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Lucretia Mott.

by Anna D. Hallowell.
[Read before the Medford Historical Society, February 20, 1911, by J. Mott Hallowell, Esq.]


All over this broad land of ours one can meet people who claim with pride their Nantucket descent. The word is an open sesame to the warmest hospitality, an unfailing link between those who had been strangers. ‘Ah! from Nantucket did you say? So am I! Come in,’ and you are at home. The writer, although the third generation away from this blessed little island, almost feels that she was born there, so carefully and lovingly have its traditions been held before her. Lucretia Mott, the subject of this paper, though living only for her first eleven years on the island, always claimed to be a ‘Nantucket woman.’ And no wonder!

On the third of January, 1793, a little girl was born on the island of Nantucket who was destined to a great work and wide influence in her long life. On both her father's and mother's side she was descended through their common ancestor, Tristram Coffin, one of the twenty first settlers and owners of Nantucket, from a line of well-to-do farmers in England, but her nearer forbears were seafaring folk, many of them captains of whalers and owning their vessels. Her father, Capt. Thomas Coffin, was the seventeenth child of his parents. Although a sailor from his childhood, he was a courteous and refined man of unusually studious habits and strong religious feeling, intelligent looking, rather than handsome, and formal in manner. He made use of his varied opportunities to become quite a linguist. In 1779, when he obtained the command of his first ship, he married his neighbor and playmate, Anna Folger, he being twenty-two years old and she just seventeen. They were both [p. 82] consistent members of the Society of Friends (commonly called Quakers), as their families had been for several generations. Anna Folger, the youngest of six sisters, was a woman conspicuous throughout her life for great energy, keen wit and unfailing good sense. She inherited the dignified bearing of her grandfather, ‘Tory Bill Folger,’ who was said never to have found anything in his life but a jackknife sticking in a post above his head. Anna was less conventional than her sisters. It is told of her once, when she went for water to the pump near by which was owned in common by several families, and was using her own vigorous strokes, that one of her sisters remonstrated, saying, ‘Don't, Anna, don't pump so strong!’

The house where Lucretia was born is not standing now. She was still a little girl when they left it, and she remembered only one incident connected with it—that one day, when she was left in charge of a baby sister, it was struck by lightning and a neighbor came in and took both of them home with her; but curiously enough, no impression of terror remained with this recollection. The associations of her childhood belonged to the house on Fair street, into which they moved in 1797. It is still standing, in good preservation. As with all houses of that period, more attention had been paid to comfort and strength in its erection than to style or ornament, although the solid mahogany rail on its easy staircase shows that it was meant to be as handsome as was consistent with proper Friendly simplicity. Its frame was of solid handhewn oak. (Query—where did such oaks grow? On little Nantucket?) The walls over the open fireplaces were panelled up to the ceilings and the best rooms were wainscoted all around. The room at the right hand of the front door was the parlor, the scene of many lively family parties, and it was little Lucretia's place on these occasions to slip in while the elders were at tea in the other room, replenish the wood fire, and draw the chairs into a sociable circle around it. This [p. 83] naturally grew in her mind to be an essential feature of hospitality, which as she became old she passed along to children and grandchildren.

In the room to the left of the front door Anna Coffin kept a small shop for the sale of East India goods, brought home by her husband, and by this means eked out a scanty income during his long and uncertain voyages to China, thus beginning the traditional family use of blue India china so precious ever since to the initiated. The shutter of the shop window, when opened, projected far enough beyond the corner of the house to be visible down the side lane, the children's way home from school. How eagerly they watched for that sign of their mother's being at home, and how cheery was her welcome when they ran in. Then their dinner became a feast to them, particularly if they might bake a potato in the ashes. On the occasions when the mother had to go to the ‘continent,’ as these good islanders called the main-land, to exchange whale oil, candles, and other staples of the island for dry goods and groceries, Lucretia was left in charge of the little family, and early learned the simpler parts of housekeeping. These excursions were serious journeys in those days, and the return home almost as exciting as the return of the vessels from China, or from the still greater perils of a whaling voyage. When one of these was sighted and the crier, going his rounds, cried the good news at the street corners, the population betook themselves to the house-tops, spy-glass in hand, to see whose ship was coming in, and by the time it had crossed the bar and was rounding the point, Long Wharf was filled with an expectant crowd. Nantucket was then at the height of her commercial success. It was said that the little island contributed more men to the whale fishing and East India trade than any other town of its population. So identical was such employment with thrift and prosperity that a Nantucket good wife asked no better fortune than ‘a clean hearth and a husband at sea,’ [p. 84]

These were the prominent events of the simple community in which Lucretia passed her childhood, but there were also certain annual festivities in which she took delight, like the ‘veal feast’ and the ‘shearing feast.’ Fresh meat being a rare luxury, the killing of a calf was a time of excitement to all concerned. On one such memorable occasion little Lucretia was told, ‘Now, if thee is a good girl thee shall see them kill the calf.’ I must record that sometimes she was far from good, for she was a great tease, being full to overflowing of animal life. But to return, the ‘veal feast’ followed the killing. It was a family reunion, occupying two days. On the first all the husband's relatives were bidden; on the second all the wife's, and to those unable to come a portion of the good things was carried in dishes wrapped in great square napkins, especially prepared for this use, and the children who were careful enough were allowed to be the bearers, a much coveted privilege. The veal was presented to the guests at the ‘feast’ under various disguises known only to such good cooks as the women of Nantucket. While they knew how to make much out of little, and were content with their ordinary fare of bacon and corned beef, clams, fish, and corn bread, they were not above rejoicing in occasions that called forth their culinary skill. The ‘shearing feast’ was the annual three days holiday, when young and old went out to the ponds on Miacomet Plain to wash and shear the sheep and have a good time generally. And among the Friends there were also the weighty gatherings of monthly and quarterly meetings when strangers or ‘off islanders’ filled the hospitable houses to overflowing.

Anna Coffin, like the rest of the women whose husbands ‘followed the sea,’ enjoyed an occasional ‘dish of tea’ with her neighbors, and especially with her sisters, who, all five, were married and settled in Nantucket. When going to them she would say to her children, ‘Now, after you have finished knitting twenty bouts you may go down cellar and pick out as many as you want [p. 85] of the smallest potatoes—the very smallest, remember—and roast them in the ashes.’ This was a great treat! The huge fireplace in the cellar, where the children held this feast, was the place where most of the family cooking was done. It is still there.

When it was the aunts' turn to visit Anna Coffin the children would be sent early to bed with permission to talk as long as they pleased, with the promise of reward the next day, but this was little comfort to Lucretia, who always longed to stay down stairs to hear the conversation of the grown people. Although not the oldest of the little family, Lucretia was most her mother's companion, and shared in the care and responsibility of the household. If a message were to be carried or an errand done, she, quick and reliable, was generally chosen for it. But this very readiness made her impatient with the slowness or stupidity of others.

Her parents were careful to preserve in their children the peculiarities of the religious society to which they belonged—Friends, or Quakers—training them in the daily observances and in regular attendance at ‘Meeting’ on First Day, as Friends call Sunday, where they learned to sit still without restlessness or drowsiness, and to understand the value of silence. This latter was difficult for such a quick, restless child as Lucretia, but though restless she was not unruly, and was quick to appropriate to her own needs the spiritual admonitions of the preachers, as if their words were especially addressed to her. Conscious of a wayward spirit, she had many difficulties to overcome, but she tried to do right, praying for strength to overcome a naturally hasty temper. Her reading book at school was called ‘Mental Improvement,’ by Priscilla Wakefield, including pictures of slave ships, as presented by Thomas Clarkson, the English philanthropist. These attracted her attention, and early enlisted her sympathy for the slave and fostered her abhorrence of the institution of slavery. One of her favorite couplets from the copybook was [p. 86]

Learn to avoid what thou believ'st is sin,
Mind what reproves, or justifies, within.
No act is good that doth disturb thy peace,
Or can be bad which makes true joy increase.

Captain Coffin's last cruise was made in 1800, when Lucretia was seven years old. He sailed, as commander and owner of the ship Trial, in quest of seal-skins to take to China and exchange for silks, nankeens, china and tea. When he had been out about a year the Trial was seized by the Spaniards off the Pacific coast of South America for alleged violation of neutrality and taken to Valparaiso. Captain Coffin undertook his own defence in the Spanish courts and obtained some favorable decisions, but after much delay, finding that he could get no redress nor regain his vessel he crossed the Andes and sailed from a port in Brazil, reaching home after an absence of three years. His family had believed him lost. Great was their delight over his return. They never tired hearing him recount his adventures, and he in turn found amusement in teaching them Spanish phrases, some of which Lucretia remembered after she was an old woman of seventy.

Luckily, this ill-starred voyage proved profitable, for the seal-skins forwarded to China by another vessel made good returns. Some years later his brother, Capt. Mayhew Folger, had his ship seized in the same way, but more fortunate than Captain Coffin, he recovered both ship and $44,000 damages. This Captain Folger was the one who in 1809 discovered the lost mutineers of the English ship Bounty on Pitcairn's Island in the Pacific, where they had remained unmolested for nineteen years.

In seventh month, or July, 1804, Captain Coffin, with his family, removed to Boston, where he engaged in a profitable commercial business. This was the first time Lucretia or her sisters had ever left Nantucket, even for a visit, but, although she never returned to the island to live, Lucretia always regarded this first home with an affection different from that given to any other, and ever after ‘Nantucket way’ became household law. [p. 87]

The habits formed in these early days, habits of simplicity, moderation, temperance and self-restraint in all material things, with an abhorrence of falsehood and injustice of any kind, remained with her through a long life, consecrating her to that gospel which anoints to ‘preach deliverance to the captive’ and to ‘set at liberty them that are bruised.’

Thomas Coffin's house in Boston was on the north side of Green street, a little below Chardon street. The garden behind the house sloped down to the fields, beyond which the Causeway crossed to Charlestown. From her window the little girl had an unobstructed view of the Charles and the Mystic rivers, with Bunker Hill beyond, and could hear the sound of travel on the draw-bridges. Green street was then a select, if not a fashionable, neighborhood, soon made more desirable by the erection of a block of dwelling houses on Bowdoin square, which, from their handsome finish, mahogany doors and window seats, became the admiration and talk of that part of the town. Lucretia was often taken by her father to see them while they were being built. He also used to walk with her on First Day afternoons out Marlboro street, now Washington, to the Neck, where the high tide washed up on both sides of the road, then back by the way of Charles street, on the bank of the broad Back Bay, or by the pretty gardens and fine residences on Franklin and Summer streets.

At first the children attended a private school, but afterwards, at the wish of their father, were sent to the public school of the district ‘to mingle with all classes without distinction.’ Lucretia wrote afterwards concerning this change, ‘It was the custom then to send the children of such families as ours to select schools, but my parents feared that this would minister to a feeling of class pride, which they felt was sinful to cultivate in their children, and this I am glad to remember, because it gave me a feeling of sympathy for the patient and struggling poor which, but for this experience, I might never have known.’ [p. 88]

When she was thirteen years old she was sent with a younger sister to the Friends' boarding school at Nine Partners, N. Y., where her future husband, James Mott, was already a teacher on the boys' side of the house. In accordance with the practice of the Society of Friends, both boys and girls were admitted to the school, but they were not permitted to meet or speak to each other unless they were near relatives, when they might talk a little together on certain days over a certain corner of the fence that divided their playground. Like other spirited children, Lucretia sometimes rebelled and gave trouble to the authorities when they exercised what she called unreasonable severity and inflicted unfair punishment. Once when one of the boys, James Mott's cousin and a favorite with her, was shut in a dark closet on bread and water for what she thought a trifle, she contrived to get into the forbidden side of the house, where he was, and supply him with bread and butter under the door. She was quite human. She was also a capital mimic, in which art she doubtless often indulged mischievously. It is easy to imagine that while in the main she was a satisfactory pupil, she was not averse to playing the part of a thorn in the sides of her teachers. A favorite game with her was to ‘play meeting’ and imitate those preachers whose ‘gift’ had amused her.

I dwell somewhat lengthily, perhaps, on her early days, because it is encouraging to us struggling mortals, in hearing of a life that has become famous in maturity, to see in what small ways that life began, and under what limitations.

The principal teacher of the school at Nine Partners was an English woman, Susan Marriott, of uncommon acquirements, with a special fondness for the study of grammar, which liking she succeeded in imparting to her pupils. She was very critical of their pronunciation and their choice of language, making nice discriminations between words in a precise and antiquated style easily imitated by the mimic. An appreciative lover of English [p. 89] poetry, Susan Marriott taught her pupils to love it too, and gave them selected passages to learn by heart as a regular school exercise. It was to this influence that Lucretia owed her familiarity with Milton, Cowper and Young, and above all, the Bible. The scope of studies was not wide, but it was all that Quakerism then demanded, including the ‘use of the globes.’ Their first map was one presented to the school by Captain Coffin in 1807. Lucretia made such good progress that at the age of fifteen she was made assistant teacher, and a year after regular teacher, her services entitling a younger sister to her education. A teacher's salary was about $100 a year with board. During this last year in the school some of the teachers, desiring a wider culture than the somewhat meager plan of Friendly education, formed a French class. Among these were James Mott and Lucretia Coffin. Even at that early day the unequal condition of woman impressed her mind. She said of this later, ‘Learning that the charge for tuition of girls was the same as that for boys, and that when they became teachers women received only half as much as men for their services, the injustice of this distinction was so apparent that I early resolved to claim for myself all that an impartial Creator had bestowed.’

During this time Captain Coffin was induced to give up his business in Boston and take charge of a branch manufactory of cut nails in Philadelphia, and consequently removed thither with his family in 1809, where Lucretia joined them, and in 1810 James Mott followed them. The young people were already engaged to be married. He was a pleasant looking fellow, tall, over six feet, with red hair and blue eyes, shy, and rather grave in manner. She, short, five feet, sprightly, and more than ordinarily comely, fond of a joke, impulsive and vivacious.

Thomas Coffin's business was so prosperous that he could offer a position to James Mott, who in 181 became his son-in-law, he being twenty-three and Lucretia [p. 90] eighteen. As was customary in those primitive days, they formed part of Captain Coffin's family, not going to housekeeping until a year later. After various ups and downs in business, experimental trips on horseback to Ohio and New York, James Mott settled in Philadelphia. Meantime two children had come, a girl and a boy. Their journey back to Philadelphia is in such contrast to the luxury of the present modes of travelling that I give the account from a letter:—

Our journey here was quite as comfortable as we could expect. We left the Hook about eight o'clock, found the roads pretty good till we got to Brunswick, where we dined; from there to Trenton was exceedingly rough, large stones having been laid where the poles used to be, and only two passengers besides ourselves, so that we were obliged to keep little Thomas well wedged in, that he need not be thrown against the side of the stage; the pillow added much to his comfort and our convenience, as it enabled my James to hold him part of the time; he was very quiet, slept most of the day, and was not out of the stage, except when we stopped to dine, until we arrived at Trenton at half past 7. He was then put to bed and slept quietly all night. The steamboat was quite a relief, and we reached Philadelphia at 12 o'clock the next day.

Of their little daughter, Anna, then two and a half years old, they write, ‘We have much neglected teaching our Anna until within a few weeks. She learns quickly, and begins to spell.’

It was in 1815 that they became members (or James Mott did, I fear women were not allowed) of the Abolition Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin, who was its first president, ‘for promoting the abolition of slavery, the relief of free negroes unlawfully held in bondage, and for improving the conditions of the African race.’

Business did not prosper, so that Lucretia found it best to return to her old occupation as teacher and opened a small school with four scholars at $7 a quarter. This school enlarged to a satisfactory success, and business also changed for the better, but sorrow almost overwhelmed them in the death of the ‘darling little Thomas,’ a crushing blow to his mother, whose health suffered [p. 91] seriously in consequence. Under the solemn influence of this bereavement she was led into a deeper religious feeling, which finally expressed itself in Friends' Meeting, and led to her becoming a preacher in the Society. In the year 1818, when she was twenty-five years old, she spoke for the first time in public. This was in the form of a prayer, which, sixty-one years after, she wrote out without hesitation from memory, giving the very words she had spoken.

As the years went on, speaking, at first difficult, became easy, and her ministry was eagerly sought, sometimes carrying her far afield, once in a private travelling carriage, with a Friend, on a religious visit into Virginia, and as far, several times, as Ohio and Indiana. She became a member of the ‘Fragment Society’ but resigned, because she found she could help as well without such association, and ‘because most of the conversations at the meetings are neither interesting nor instructive, much of it being what is called gossip.’ She and her husband both took part in the momentous ‘Separation’ among Friends, some following the teachings of Elias Hicks, others remaining Orthodox. This took place in or near 1827. During this time, from about 1820-1830, James Mott was engaged in the domestic commission business, including the sale of cotton, then considered a legitimate article of merchandise, even by anti-slavery people. It was a popular and very profitable business. But the powerful preaching of Elias Hicks against any voluntary participation with slavery was arousing Friends to an understanding of the subject, and led many to unite with him in abstinence from the products of slave labor. James and Lucretia Mott resolved, so far as their household was concerned, to ‘make things honest’ in this respect. This involved many daily discomforts and annoyances and not a few sacrifices of personal pride, but they consistently followed the path of their convictions until the Proclamation of Freedom in 1863 made it no longer necessary. As far as possible they bought their groceries [p. 92] and dry goods at the ‘Free Store,’ but, unfortunately, free sugar was not always so free from other taints as from that of slavery, and ‘free’ calicoes could seldom be called handsome; free umbrellas were hideous and free candies an abomination. (I have with me a free umbrella and a pocket made of nankeen cotton, free and high priced.) May I recall an incident? The children at a small birthday party had, as part of the ‘goodies,’ some ‘secrets’—candies with mottoes, wrapped in bright paper, in much favor then with children. Imagine their disappointment on opening the packages to find, instead of the usual delightfully silly couplets, a set of good, improving anti-slavery sentiments, such as

If slavery comes by color, which God gave
Fashion may change and you become the slave.

'Tis not expedient the slave to free?
Do what is right. That is expediency!

The ‘secrets’ had been bought at the ‘Free Store.’ Children were as human then as now, and preferred good candy to consistent convictions. But to their elders, whose sympathy with the oppressed had become a religion, apparent trifles became of grave importance, and these were upheld with a heroism that derision could not laugh down nor persecution dismay.

James Mott did his part bravely. He was not one to shrink from any step which duty demanded, but he was cautious, and slow to move, and the struggle in his mind was long and painful. It was no easy matter to turn from a newly found prosperity and face again the doubtful chances of an unfamiliar business, but finally, about 1830, he quitted the profitable trade, that could be carried on only at the loss of self-respect, and entered the wool commission business. In this he remained, with various successes and reverses, until he retired in 1852 with a moderate competency.

He was a man ‘calm, sensible and clear-sighted, one who feared not the face of man, and whom nothing could move to the slightest bitterness.’ What a blessed complement [p. 93] to his gifted, impetuous wife! What a support to her in the path whereunto she was called! His life made hers a possibility. He was as different from her in disposition and manner as in personal appearance. He, reserved, silent, easily depressed; she, lively, fluent, a sunbeam of hopefulness; he, gentle and somewhat yielding; she, energetic and resolved; he, a good listener; she, a good talker. On one occasion, as she entered a room where he and his brother were sitting in perfect silence, she laughingly said, ‘I thought you must both be here, it was so still.’

They formed part of their mother's family until, in 1824, they took a small house in Sansome street, in Philadelphia, a street now wholly given up to shops and offices. As no nurse was kept, Mrs. Mott was closely occupied by the care of her children, the fourth, another Thomas, having been born in 1823. She also did much of the housework, and all her own sewing, as they could afford only one servant and felt the necessity of strict economy. In an old account book we find that the yearly expenses of this household were $655.58 in 1820, increasing to a little over $1,000 in 1824, but did not reach $1,700 till in the '30s, notwithstanding the birth of two more children.

It was in those busy years that she read and reread with an absorbing interest the writings of William Penn. She had a folio copy of his works which she would lay open at the foot of her bed, then, drawing her chair near, with a baby on her lap or in the cradle at her feet, she would study the passages that had especially attracted her attention until she had them stored in her retentive memory. In her public discourses throughout her long life she continually used them to illustrate or confirm the views she advanced. She also ‘searched the Scriptures daily,’ gaining an intimate knowledge of them. Her quotations from the Bible were strikingly apt and invariably correct. This familiarity with venerated authorities often served her in good stead. Once, when she was [p. 94] ‘visited’ by two Elders from the Meeting to which she belonged, a visit of criticism for something she had said on the previous First Day, ‘they couldn't quite remember, but it was something like ‘notions of Christ,’’ she repeated the whole sentence,‘Men are to be judged by their likeness to Christ, rather than by their notions of Christ,’ asking if that was what they objected to. On their saying it was she quietly informed them that it was a quotation from their honored William Penn, and the Elders went their way in silence!

It is painful to recur to this period of the life of Lucretia Mott—the period known as the ‘Separation’ among Friends. She discovered that her failure to cooperate with those who seemed to her to be taking a retrograde course met with coldness and unfriendly admonitions. Although the question of slavery had already engaged her attention, her chief interests so far had been within the limitations of the Society of Friends, but in the severe mental discipline of the Separation her whole spiritual visions widened, and she beheld directly before her extended fields of labor wherein honest workers were sorely needed.

She believed that there was yet other work for her to do; she must devote her life to the abolition of slavery, the elevation of woman, the cause of temperance, and the promotion of universal peace.

With her to see was to do. She said of herself, ‘I felt bound to plead the cause of the millions of downtrodden slaves in our land, in season and out of season, and to aid all in my power in every effort for their immediate emancipation.’ She attended the historical convention of 1833 in Philadelphia by invitation, as a ‘listener and spectator,’ and was stared and wondered at when she ventured to suggest an improvement in the words of the Declaration of Sentiment. The improvement was adopted, even if made by a woman. Soon after, though it was an unheard of thing, certainly in Pennsylvania, for women to have societies of their own, [p. 95] except under the patronizing shelter of church organization, they formed the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and new to such undertakings, were obliged to ask a man to preside at the first meeting, no woman feeling capable of taking the chair and calling the meeting to order. ‘Friends’ were increasingly averse to the agitation of so unpopular a subject as anti-slavery, and exhorted their members to ‘avoid all contention,’ even closing their meeting-houses against such discussions.

Lucretia Mott, who had become an influential minister among Friends, persisted in ‘lugging in’ the distasteful subject, and brought herself into such disfavor she several times narrowly escaped disownment, but she was adroit enough to keep her membership, which she greatly valued. She felt that she was above all a Friend, and that she could do more good within the fold than outside. As a visiting Friend she travelled largely. On one of these journeys she attended seventy-one different meetings, speaking at each, and travelled a distance of two thousand four hundred miles, most of it in a stagecoach, generally taking her knitting with her. The generation of today would find it difficult to conceive of the savage form of opposition to the abolitionists which prevailed during many years. In these perilous periods Mrs. Mott proved her fidelity to her non-resistant principles as well as to her anti-slavery faith. In the year 1838, when Pennsylvania Hall was burned by a mob, her own house barely escaped, the excited throng having been headed by a Friend, who shouted, ‘On to Mott's,’ and led them up the wrong street. This was not the only mob through which her courage carried her unhurt. At one time, in Virginia, the gentleman who was with her was tarred and feathered, while she protested that she only was the offender and besought them to spare him. On another memorable occasion, several years later, when the annual meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society in New York was broken up by rowdies, some of the speakers as they left the hall were roughly handled by the [p. 96] crowd. Perceiving this, Mrs. Mott asked the gentleman who was escorting her to leave her and help some of the other ladies, who were timid. ‘But who will take care of you?’ said he. ‘This man,’ she answered, quietly laying her hand on the arm of one of the roughest of the men, ‘he will see me through.’ Although taken aback for a moment he responded by conducting her to a place of safety, and as he left the room asked who that lady was, and on hearing her name, remarked, ‘Well, she's a good, sensible woman, anyhow!’ When twitted with ‘walking with colored people’ she replied, ‘We have never made a parade of doing so, and shall do as we have done before, walk with them when occasion offers; it is a principle with us, which we cannot yield, to make no distinction on account of color.’

In the year 1839 the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society of London called a general conference in order to deliberate on the best means of promoting the interests of the slave, etc. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania chose their best delegates, whether men or women, they having discovered ‘that as a concert of advice between men and women was important to success, so mutual counsel and discussions in their business meetings were convenient and profitable.’ James and Lucretia Mott were among the delegates. Her health was much impaired at this time, and it was hoped that a sea voyage might prove beneficial, and the kindness of a distant relative made this expensive trip possible. They sailed in a packet ship, Roscoe, from New York, on May 7, 1840, and landed in Liverpool on the 28th. They spent about three months in England and Ireland, being entertained by prominent people and making many new friends. For the only time in her life Mrs. Mott kept a diary, quaint and pleasant reading, but too long for quotation here. To her infinite surprise the convention to which she was a delegate refused to admit her, except as a listener behind the bar, because she was a woman. The great world's convention of 1840! [p. 97]

This action in excluding women caused general indignation. William Lloyd Garrison and party, who also were delegates, in protest refused to take part in the convention, as did many others, among them Wendell Phillips and his new-made wife.

It was in London that she made the acquaintance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and formed a life-long friendship. Their exclusion from the convention on account of sex brought her for the first time face to face with the reality of the subjection of woman. In the Society of Friends she had been accustomed to see members valued more for their individual merit than for the accident of sex, and this indignity sinking deep into her heart, she resolved to do her best to right this arrogant wrong. As she and Mrs. Stanton walked home together at the close of the first day's session, they agreed to call a Woman's Rights Convention on their return to America. Eight years after, around the tea-table of a mutual friend, they discussed the question in all its bearings and decided that the time had come. That same evening, July 14, 1848, the call appeared and the meeting was held, James Mott in the chair. This was the famous Seneca Falls Convention, the beginning of a movement now worldwide. It led Mrs. Mott into even greater publicity than had the hated anti-slavery cause. Her correspondence became voluminous and her calls to address public meetings incessant. As a speaker she was in demand, partly because she was almost the only woman then who was able to address with ease a public audience, but also because of her eloquence, her beautiful voice, her winning manner and her fearless advocacy of truth.

Meantime her children had grown beyond the needs of childhood, and her well-ordered household gave her frequent opportunities for absence. This was not, however, by the neglect of home duties, rather by habits of careful economy of time and strength. It is recorded that she thought herself ‘pretty smart to get her currants squeezed and jelly made before meeting time,’ ten [p. 98] o'clock. She was an early riser and an indefatigable worker, never sparing herself. It was a rule with her to be willing to do herself any work that she required of another. She also had the power to discriminate between the necessary and unnecessary duties of housekeeping, the essentials and the non-essentials. She said of herelf, ‘Being fond of reading, I omitted ornamental stitching for my family that I might have more time for the improvement of my mind.’ It was the days before sewing machines, nevertheless she cut and made her own and her children's clothes, with the help of her handy daughters, one generally reading aloud while the rest sewed. She kept two servants, and at one time, when one of them had an attack of cholera, Mrs. Mott writes, ‘I sent for extra help, but with our large family there is still much to be done, so this morning I have ironed four dozen pieces, made soft custards, stewed blackberries, potted some Dutch herring, besides doing all the dusting and receiving several callers. I was more tired when our family of thirteen gathered at dinner (mid-day, then) than since I came home.’ This was in the '40s or '50s. Although a large family in themselves, they gave hospitable welcome to the many guests from far and near who came to them, often distinguished strangers from across the water. At their table black guests and white were treated by them and their family with equal courtesy. So many wretched outcasts came to them for help that a large chair standing in their hall in Philadelphia came to be called the ‘beggars' chair.’ They were also an acknowledged station on the ‘underground railroad.’ Their house, ‘338,’ so called without mention of the street, was a refuge to all. Once a colored man, for some offense, perhaps for being a runaway slave, was pursued to their door by a hooting mob. James Mott opened the door, the man dashed in, and without stopping, ran through the house, and out the back gate to a small street, where he successfully escaped. As Mr. Mott stood at the door a brick was thrown violently at [p. 99] him, which, however, struck the door jamb instead of his head and left a deep, indented mark. The mobs were many, but their angry rumble generally passed by.

In 1856 this memorable house was left for the country, where James and Lucretia Mott bought a small farm on the ‘Old North Road,’ the old turnpike between New York and Philadelphia, calling the place ‘Roadside,’ and here they spent their remaining years.

It is difficult to give a connected account of her life during the next ten years, sometimes in the peaceful country retreat, sometimes in the whirl of city events; at one time apparently engrossed in domestic affairs, and then absorbed in the day and night sessions of a fugitive slave's trial, and again in the happy circle of a family gathering.

Mrs. Mott retained her city interests, going into town almost daily, her husband generally driving her in their comfortable old-fashioned carriage. It was in these drives that she accomplished her ‘little knitting’—free cotton, still—of bed spreads and bureau covers, so many that one was presented to each of her daughters and granddaughters.

Their carriage was always loaded with products of farm or orchard, chickens, fruit, or vegetables, to be divided among the children's homes in town, or taken to the ‘House of Industry’ or the ‘Colored Home’—something nice for somebody. Later, when these long drives were superseded by the convenient steam railway, Mrs. Mott still persisted, carrying a basket of fresh eggs or ripe pears, refusing offers of assistance. Sometimes these good fresh eggs were carried in her own handbag, in dangerous proximity to its other contents. Mrs. Mott was curiously averse either to exact or receive attentions. When travelling she preferred to be alone, if her husband could not accompany her. With him she made journeys into Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts and Nantucket, speaking at innumerable meetings, often in spite of some dyspeptic trouble, meeting with persecution in some parts and enthusiastic welcome in others. [p. 100] On one religious journey she stayed over night with a Friend, who had recently come into possession of the family homestead and a comfortable property, but he said, deprecatingly, ‘I have to keep my mother.’ ‘Was she an active woman in early life?’ asked Mrs. Mott. ‘Oh, yes, very! she brought up a large family of children, attended to the housework and dairy, and seldom kept any help; she was a very saving woman.’ ‘And yet,’ replied Mrs. Mott, ‘thou says thou has to keep her. Did not her industry and frugality entitle her to an equal ownership with her husband in homestead and farm? Should it not be said that she allows thee to live with her?’

Mrs. Mott was a tireless reader, making copious extracts as she went, and calling into her library any one she could to share the pleasure of a fine passage. Indeed, her whole spirit was to share—time, money and strength, all given freely with the love of giving.

If possible many instances of this might be given, but for the already great length of this paper. But we must draw to a close, merely summarizing the rest of her long life as busy, active and serene.

James and Lucretia Mott had the happiness of celebrating their golden wedding, with a large circle of descendants about them, on the 10th of 4th Month (April), 1861. Children, grandchildren and one greatgrand-child were there, and three of the original number who had been present at their marriage in the old Pine Street Meeting House in Philadelphia.

After this came the Civil War, and a camp for recruiting and training colored soldiers was established near the home of the Motts. As an abolitionist she gave the movement her sympathy, but as an advocate of peace she condemned the resort to carnal weapons. With these conflicting feelings Mrs. Mott seldom visited the camp—‘Camp William Penn’—but she found many chances to befriend its inmates, both officers and privates. The regiments, as they left for the seat of war, sometimes [p. 101] marched in at the Mott's back gate and out at the front, in order to pass directly by the house. Once, as they were heard approaching, Mrs. Mott ran quickly to the cake box, emptied its contents into her apron, and then, standing at the end of the piazza, as the men filed along handed each a cookie, until the supply was exhausted.

For several years she was in the way of sending each of the employees of the railroad that passed near their home a small box of candy at Christmas time–once amounting to over fifty boxes—as a slight acknowledgment of their kindness in helping her in and out of the cars, and for various small courtesies received. The following note was sent her on her eighty-sixth birthday:—

Dear Friend:—The officers and employees of the North Penn. R. R. Co. desire to recognize on this, the 86th anniversary of your birth, their appreciation of the happy intercourse that has existed for so many years between you and your family and them. One and all join in wishing you a happy continuance and a peaceful ending at the close, of your long and useful life.

On behalf of the Co.'s employees.

The War of the Rebellion brought peace within the borders of the Quaker communion. Those who had violently opposed the abolition movement began to think that they had always been in favor of emancipation, and greeted its advocates as brothers beloved. James and Lucretia Mott were again received as honored members of the Society of Friends, a most pleasant change to them; but public work was beginning to be a dread to Mrs. Mott, whose health was far from satisfactory. Her husband's death, in 1868, caused a serious illness, from which she slowly recovered. With great effort she contrived to be present at the Free Religious Association in Boston. This was a movement with which she deeply sympathized, almost as much as with the cause of peace, and she attended the annual meetings of both associations as long as she was able; but with these exceptions she went less and less into public assemblies. Her home [p. 102] life gradually assumed a new routine, and the days passed on. She found solace in the general kindliness that greeted her and in the devotion of the younger generation. Each year, as it stole something from her physical and mental vigor, but added to the gentle grace of her manner, her face became like that of a transfigured saint. With the mysterious balance of mortal life, while in public she was reaping the fruit of her own faithfulness, her domestic life was shadowed by one sorrow after another. Under these afflictions her frail body yielded more and more to the infirmities of advanced age. An eager reporter, hearing this, wrote an article on ‘the valuable lessons of her long life.’ This was read to her, her quizzical comment being, ‘It's better not to be in a hurry with obituaries,’ adding after a few minutes, ‘I am a much overrated woman.’

She died November 11, 1880. ‘Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel.’

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